Immigration Scammers Hit Hillsborough County
If you’re residing in the U.S. as a non-citizen, you’re at risk of being the victim of an immigration scam. Scam artists are hoping that non-citizens who have less familiarity with the English language and U.S. laws and customs will be more easy to victimize. They also prey on the hopes and dreams of non-citizens who want to keep residing in the country and perhaps one day become citizens.
What are some ways to protect yourself from a scam?
Many scam artists offer to help non-citizens with applications for different kinds of visas or for citizenship. However, their services are bogus. They’ll wind up stealing money and personal information from you, and their lies will put you at risk for deportation. Before you obtain someone’s assistance with any sort of applications or official forms, doublecheck their credentials and ask around about them to find out their reputation. Always keep a copy of any forms you fill out and submit with their assistance, along with a receipt once you’ve paid them for their services.
Scam artists may try to obtain sensitive documents from you, including your passport. Don’t let other people get their hands on your documents and hang onto them. They might steal information from your documents and perpetrate identity theft, or they may try to sell the documents to you and make some quick money out of your desperate need to get them back.
Another popular tactic of scam artists is to contact you by phone or email and pretend they’re from the U.S. government. They may claim that there’s a major problem with your non-citizen status and ask you to immediately wire money to them. However, real government officials won’t phone you up or email you and start demanding money or sensitive information on the spot. In their dishonest emails, scam artists may also include links to what they claim are official government websites where they want you to fill out online forms with credit card numbers and other compromising information; these, however, will be fake sites. Another approach is to try to sell you services that they think might be attractive to you, such as expensive English language courses; they may even try to push these fake courses on you by telling you they’re required by law.
If you get a dubious email or phone call, you can contact official immigration authorities (such as USCIS, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) to doublecheck if there are any issues and alert them to these scam artist behaviors. As for websites, always make sure you’re using legitimate U.S. government sites.
Finally, scam artists and other criminals may try to take advantage of you by getting you to sign various forms you don’t understand. Never do this. What you’re signing may bankrupt you or land you in jail. If you’re in doubt about a form or contract you’re being asked to sign, use a trustworthy translator and consult with a reputable legal expert.
High-quality immigration lawyers can help you with applications and official forms and assist you with sniffing out scams. Furthermore, if you’ve already fallen victim to a scam artist, a good attorney will help you deal with the aftermath. Do your best to watch out for typical scam artist tactics, and don’t hesitate to contact the Ayo and Iken legal team with any questions or concerns.